Montgomery County could potentially see a coronavirus spike, especially since fewer residents in the county caught the virus and developed COVID-19, in comparison to Philadelphia and other densely-populated areas, health and government officials are warning.
Once considered the epicenter of the outbreak in Pennsylvania, Montgomery County has since seen some success in its efforts to minimize the disease transmission or flatten the curve during the last three months.
Positive COVID-19 cases have decreased by 75 in the last seven days and 564 in the previous 14 days.
As to date Montgomery County has a total of 8,067 positive COVID-19 cases and 785 deaths since March 7 in comparison to Philadelphia which reported 25,335 confirmed cases and 1,563 deaths.
“Montgomery County, because it has had fewer infections per capita, has more people at risk of still catching the virus so they actually have a risk of being a place where they could have a spike because so few people have caught it [COVID-19],so far,” said Dr. Larry Caplin, DMD, health care logistics expert and CEO of DOCS Health. “That just means there’s a lot more people that can catch it.”
According to worldreview.com Montgomery County has an estimated population of 824,562 whereas Philadelphia is estimated at 1,591,800 with a density of 11,854 people per square mile in comparison to 1,655 people per square mile.
Caplin is a leader on public health subjects and healthcare logistics. Since losing his father-in-law to COVID-19, he’s been diligently working to get the message out to people to continue to take heightened safety precautions and for businesses to ensure proper safety protocols for a safe reopening.
He launched DOCS Health, a progressive healthcare movement in Pipersville, which is now moving across the region and states to provide access to comprehensive healthcare and innovative solutions for schools, military and government agencies, correctional facilities, and corporations.
“We know that people who are in close contact with each other over any extended period of time increases transmission,” Caplin said. “In Montgomery County people are spread out a little more, they have more space around them, they have bigger yards, they are in less contact with each other all the time, that is an advantage.”
However, that doesn’t make its residents less susceptible to contracting COVID-19 if residents experience a second coronavirus wave or more spikes that some health experts and scientists are predicting. Density is only one of many factors that contributes to how fast or slow a virus can become widespread, according to Caplin.
“You have to look at the overall health of a population,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that Montgomery County is less healthy or more healthy. I’m just saying that the health of the population doesn’t impact your ability to catch the virus but it impacts your risk of having bad outcomes from catching the virus.”
“People keep saying that older people and people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to catching the virus and that’s not true,” he continues. “They’re not more susceptible to catch the virus. They are just as susceptible to catch the virus as anyone else. The difference is whether they will have a bad outcome or not. If people don’t take heightened safety precautions we will have another outbreak.”
Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh announced Montgomery county is set to move into the green phase of its re-opening process on June 26. The county has spent three weeks in the yellow phase and has met the criteria to move forward.
“Our goal as always is to responsibly open,” Arkoosh said during the county’s June 22 COVID-19 press announcement.
Arkoosh also mentioned the county had documented 124 new cases since their June 18 press announcement.
“COVID-19 is not over,” she warned. “Green does not mean going back to the old normal. Green means going forward to a new normal one where we are living as safely as possible with this virus. This risk is not going to be zero.”
According to the Pennslyvannia’s Department of Health website, Montgomery County is currently meeting four out of the four health criteria to move into the next level of the reopening plan.
“There are straight forward steps we can take to reduce the risk to ourselves and family and to reduce the risk to our community as a whole,” Arkoosh said. ”We have been in this together from the beginning and we will continue to be in this together. Our success in keeping this virus at a low state in our community is by working together and moving together in the same direction.”
Arkoosh also reported the hospital bed situation is moving in the right direction,yet she urged residents to continue to work from home if possible and to pay attention to the other states and areas who are experiencing higher daily numbers of COVID-19 positive cases since their re-opening phase began.
“Although we are better at providing care for people that are hospitalized and we may have fewer deaths because we learned a lot and we are better at treating people who are in the hospital, we still do not have therapy,” Caplin explains. “If you get a bacterial infection and I give you an antibiotic it will treat your bacterial infection, if you have the flu and I gave you tamiflu it will reduce your symptoms and the duration of your flu, we don’t have that for covid-19 yet and until we do this virus is just as dangerous as it was three months ago,” he continued.
State Sen. Art Haywood has also experienced some safety concerns. In order to remain in the green phase safety precautions have to stay in place.
“I am very concerned about a spike,” he said. “We should all wear masks and maintain social distancing of six feet.”
Caplin warned people need to remember what was taught to them since they’ve been sheltering in place.